Last week we reported that Switzerland was going to switch off free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT). But what is the country’s regulator going to do with all that UHF spectrum?
Clearing a frequency band earlier than expected is probably every regulator’s dream. So what are Ofcom’s intentions? An auction? A secondary service in the white space of its neighbours’ TV signals?
The answer may not be that straightforward. The spectrum currently used by DTT is also shared with PMSE (programme-making and special events) services which means the spectrum will not be completely clear after switch-off.
The regulator might want to encourage additional uses but those would have to be compatible with the uses prioritised by neighbouring countries. And France, Italy and Germany are still planning to use DTT for quite a while.
Any potential use by future 5G services, for example, would be restricted, as it is likely to create harmful interference.
ITU studies of the 700 and 800 MHz bands suggest that neighbouring DTT and IMT services are incompatible, as it is too difficult to mitigate the interference between them.
Given that DTT will remain for the foreseeable future in nearby nations, any introduction of IMT below 700 MHz would require complex regulatory conditions to ensure coexistence.•